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Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle celebrates Odd Fellows Day, Walla Walla Day, and Anacortes Day on September 23, 1909.
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On September 23, 1909, Odd Fellows Day, Walla Walla Day, and Anacortes Day are celebrated on the grounds of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. The exposition took place between June 1 and October 16, 1909, drawing more than three million people. Visitors came from around the state, the nation, and the world to view hundreds of educational exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the Pay Streak midway, while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia. Each day (except Sunday) of the A-Y-P was designated as a Special Day for one or more groups. Special Days drew people involved in the featured organizations, and the resulting programs, lectures, ceremonies, parades, and athletic competitions gave local people a reason to visit again and again. Odd Fellows Day is attended by about 10,000 members and their families, and consists primarily of ceremonial exercises, drills, and awards. Walla Walla Day, relatively smaller with perhaps 3,000 attendees, is rather more boisterous; its highlight comes in the morning with the unveiling of a statute of missionary Marcus Whitman (1802-1847). Anacortes Day is a small, informal occasion, with no activities planned, and receives little press coverage in the Seattle papers.
Odd Fellows Day
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal organization, formed in the United States in 1819 for the purpose of providing financial benefits and protections to its members in an era before modern insurance or government-established protections. The organization included women in 1851 (the first national fraternity to do so) and grew rapidly; by the time of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909, it was one of the largest fraternities in the world.
As was the case with several other organizations in 1909, the Odd Fellows held their annual convention in Seattle that year in conjunction with their own Special Day at the fair. As part of the grand occasion, approximately 10,000 Odd Fellows paraded through the streets of downtown Seattle on the afternoon of September 22, 1909, the day before Odd Fellows Day at the A-Y-P. In an era where parades were common -- and especially during the A-Y-P Exposition in Seattle during the summer and early autumn of 1909 -- the Odd Fellow’s parade stood out for its sheer size, with 10,000 uniformed marchers, a dozen bands, and at least a dozen floats; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the entire parade took an hour and a half to pass any given point.
Ten thousand Odd Fellows, this time accompanied by their families, formed at the south entrance to the fairgrounds at 10 a.m. the next morning and marched to the Auditorium, where a short exercise was held an hour later. Five hundred Odd Fellow Patriarchs Militants, carrying swords at cross arms, paraded before General M. A. Raney, crisply saluting when they passed Raney, and receiving a salute from him in return. This was followed by a competitive drill for a $250 exposition trophy at the Stadium at 1 p.m., and was topped off at 7:30 that evening in the Natural Amphitheatre with the awarding to certain esteemed members of the Decorations of Chivalry and the Grand Decorations of Chivalry.
What Walla Walla Wants Is You
Although Walla Walla Day at the A-Y-P was smaller, attracting perhaps 3,000 Walla Walla citizens, it generated almost as much excitement and press coverage in the Seattle papers as did Odd Fellows Day. Walla Walla had chosen “What Walla Walla Wants Is You” as its slogan of the day, and everyone entering the A-Y-P turnstiles that morning was given a small triangular badge bearing the motto. Walla Walla residents and boosters formed their own parade at the Agricultural Building at 10:30 a.m. and paraded to a spot near the Education Building for the big event of the day: an 11 a.m. unveiling of a stucco statute of missionary Marcus Whitman. This was an event unto itself. All children from Walla Walla present at the ceremony took hold of a long rope tied to a covering on the statute. Upon receiving a signal the children pulled the rope, the covering dropped, the statute was unveiled, the A-Y-P band struck up a patriotic tune, and the crowd cheered happily.
Whitman College President S. B. L. Penrose gave the day’s featured speech in which he formally presented the statute. A-Y-P Director General Ira Nadeau received it on behalf of the exposition; Governor Marion Hay (1865-1933) also received the statute on behalf of the state. Judge Thomas Burke (1849-1925) followed with a thoughtful speech on his impressions of Whitman, and the ceremony closed with the crowd singing “America.”
In the afternoon a large group of Walla Wallans toured the fairgrounds en masse, chanting the Walla Walla slogan, tooting whistles, shaking rattlers, and waving pennants. Paraders carried an eye-catching set of 24 signs, each sign bearing a letter in the Walla Walla slogan, that was made up in the shape of a big red apple. The Walla Walla delegation also had hundreds of small gas-filled balloons, each bearing a small silk strip with their slogan and other words of praise for Walla Walla; every time they entered a building, the group released some of their balloons and let them float to the ceiling, where they remained for days. As evening approached the happy throng took their party to the Pay Streak, where they carried on until 8 p.m., finally disbanding out of sheer exhaustion.
Other Special Days
It was also Anacortes Day at the fair. No formal activities were planned and there was little press coverage of the event in the Seattle papers; it seems likely that the Anacortes citizens who attended found themselves eclipsed by thousands of Odd Fellows and excited Walla Walla boosters.
The Crittenton Welfare Protective and Rescue Association also had a program at 2 p.m. at the Fine Arts Building, leading the Daily Times to declare -- apparently mistakenly -- that it was also “Crittenton Welfare Protective and Rescue Association Day.”
“Odd Fellows In Uniform Make Showy Parade,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 23, 1909, Sec. 1, pp. 1, 2; “Unveil Statute Of Marcus Whitman,” Ibid., September 24, 1909, Sec. 2, p. 1; “Walla Walla People Celebrate At Fair,” Seattle Daily Times, September 22, 1909, p. 10; “Walla Walla’s Boosters See A-Y-P Fair,” Ibid., September 23, 1909, p. 4; “Patriarchs Parade At Fair,” Ibid., September 23, 1909, p. 11; “Independent Order of Odd Fellows,” website accessed May 9, 2009, (http://www.ioof.org).
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Copy of Marcus Whitman statue (Alexander S. Calder, 1896, original in Philadelphia), Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909
Courtesy MOHAI (Image No. 1974.5868.14)
Stephen B. L. Penrose (1864-1947), third president of Whitman College, 1894-1934
Courtesy Whitman College and Northwest Archives
Grand Hotel, Walla Walla, 1910s